DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday evening that anti-Marcos protesters could hold their protest actions in all public places for as long as they want without any permit.

Duterte, who just arrived from his first participation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Peru, even instructed the police authorities not to carry long firearms.

Aside from the leniency in allowing protest actions, Duterte said the military will remain in their camps during the protest actions, while police personnel will only be limited to enforcing traffic rules.

“We should keep a lean number of police personnel,” he said.

“The purpose is to assure the public peace.”

Black Friday protest

Groups opposing the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos has planned to stage amulti-sectoral anti-Marcos protest action on Friday, November 25, a week after the late dictator’s  remains were buried at the Heroes’ Cemetery.

Dubbed as the “National Day of Unity and Rage,” the rally is organized by the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang or CARMMA, to hold Duterte accountable for allowing the burial.

The group also said they are rejecting Duterte’s alliance with the Marcoses. Other groups will hold similar protest actions nationwide, including here in Davao City.

‘End alliance with the Marcoses’

“We hold Pres. Duterte accountable for his role in granting honors to the worst plunderer and human rights violator in the nation’s history. We demand that he take steps to correct this grave error and reverse this unconscionable attack on truth and justice, on the victims of martial rule, and the Filipino people,” Makabayan said in a statement signed by seven lawmakers from partylists Bayan Muna, Act Teacher, Gabriela Women’ Party, Kabataan, and Anakpawis.

It called the surprise Marcos burial as “treacherous and (a) desperate attempt to rewrite history.”

“It is a vicious affront to the hundreds of thousands of victims of human rights violations and to the Filipino people that ousted the dictator,” it said.

The lawmakers also demanded for the President to “go after the billions of dollars of ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and made them criminally liable for plunder and human rights violations.”

The Makabayan bloc said Duterte’s pro-Marcos pronouncements is affecting their relationship towards his administration.

“If he continues along this path, we will become more critical and militant in opposing the same, even as we continue to support his pro-people stand for peace talks and for an independent foreign policy,” it said.

The Mindanawon president said he is aware of the upcoming anti-Marcos protest action but argued that Marcos should be rightfully buried at the Heroes’ Cemetery  since he is a President and a soldier.

“I will, gladly, and happy even to step down and relinquish my post if you can answer in the negative these two key questions: was the late Pres. Marcos a president? And was he a soldier?” he asked, challenging anti-Marcos groups to disprove his claims.

The LNMB is a 103-hectare cemetery where presidents, medal of valor awardees, war veterans, soldiers who died in the line of duty, Armed Forces of the Philippines chiefs of staffs and generals are buried. National artists, secretaries of national defense and even widows of former presidents are qualified to be buried at the LNMB.

Duterte said he would not discuss whether Marcos is a hero as this is difficult to prove.

“I have to follow the law. That is my sworn duty. To protect and adhere to the constitution,” he said.

But he assured the public that his decisions are “guided by the common good and the general welfare of the people.”

“All actions of the government will be always driven by the desire and to resolve to advance national interest,” he said.

Son of an anti-Marcos

During his arrival speech, Duterte also said that his mother was a staunch critic of the Martial Law while he had worked as a government prosecutor.

Soledad Duterte was among those who were behind the “Yellow Friday” movement in Davao City.

Duterte said he even  attempted to resign three times from government service because of the involvement of his mother and to push his plans to go into private practice.

But he said then city fiscal Emmanuel Galicia turned down his resignation.

“When my mother was marching down the streets against the Marcos dictatorship, so they say, I was in govt and my mother was there on the streets. So sabi ko sa boss ko, sir I can’t stop my mother,” he said. (davaotoday.com)

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